Lawyers who are engaged in advocacy, litigation and specialist legal advice are set to be able to use a wider range of business structures in future.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) submitted an application to become a regulator of entities – businesses that must be authorised to carry out and provide reserved legal activities – to the Legal Services Board (LSB) on 27 June. The LSB has 90 days to make a decision on the application.
Under the BSB’s proposed entity-regulation regime, barristers and other advocacy-focussed lawyers would be able to pool resources and share the risks of investing in their own business, without having to change regulators, which the BSB says would significantly broaden the public’s choice in how they access legal services.
BSB Chair Ruth Deech QC (Hon) said: “Once our application is approved it will help new advocacy-focussed business models emerge and flourish, which in turn will increase client choice. Barristers will be better placed to come up with new and innovative ways of providing legal services. This is good news for the public.”
Recent research from the BSB and the Bar Council has shown there is a clear interest among the Bar to set up or become part of an entity. It found that:
- 34 per cent of family barristers and 26 per cent of criminal barristers had definite or possible plans to become involved in an entity with only barristers owners and managers
- 26 per cent of criminal barristers and 23 per cent of family barristers had definite or potential plans regarding entities with barristers and other lawyers as owners and managers
- 18 per cent of criminal barristers and 17 per cent of family barristers had definite or potential plans regarding entities with barristers, other lawyers and lay people as owners and managers.
If the BSB application is approved, barristers wishing to take advantage of a more flexible operational regime may find it useful to have access to expert advice on issues such as business structures and business strategy issues, including diversification